365 days ago our team was busy planning the inaugural event for our partner WestJet’s first transatlantic flight from YYC to London, Gatwick. It was certainly one of my favourite events to work on at YYC. Many months, weeks and hours of planning were dedicated to making this event special. We had Big Ben chimes ringing every hour in the concourse where the flight departed, a Beatles cover band near the WestJet check-in counters and a fun photo booth for departing passenger to enjoy (who doesn’t love a feather boa?!).
In the midst of all this excitement, I decided it would be a great time to head to the United Kingdom for my first visit overseas. Even better, WestJet had some great flight prices that were too hard to pass up!
On the one-year anniversary of London-Gatwick, I would like to share some of my top experiences and travel moments for anyone looking to plan a trip across the pond. And while there are lots of great experiences and world-famous sights that you’ll want to see (the London Eye, Big Ben, the Tower Bridge), today I’m focused on my favourites and the ones that offer travellers the best value on their visit.
LEARN IN LONDON
Experience Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London
If you geek out over history like I do, this will be by far the coolest experience you’ll find in London. Playing a pivotal role in London’s history, the Tower was a royal residence in its early history and then served as a prison. The visit will showcase its dark history, along with various expansions under Kings such as Richard the Lionheart, Henry III and Edward I. It is also home to the Crown Jewels of England. It’s about £25 for entry, but you could easily spend a whole day there.
(Photo credit: Jim Linwood, The Tower of London By The Thames)
Visit a Royal Residence
Kensington Palace is set in Kensington Garden and it has been a residence of the Royal Family since the 17th century. Currently the official residence of the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge, it was the childhood home of Queen Victoria and there you experience everything from the original staircase of Queen Mary’s residence from 1690, along with her state apartments to Diana’s fashion story. Its deep history will take you from 17th century to present day.
Churchill War Rooms
This museum will show you the Cabinet War Rooms located beneath the Treasury building, which were the below ground bunkers that sheltered Churchill and his government during the Blitz and used for their operations during WWII. In the bunkers, you’ll learn about living conditions, wartime strategies and a history of Churchill’s life.
EXPERIENCE ARTS AND CULTURE
Visit a Broadway Show
When I think of Broadway, I tend to think of New York City, but don’t forget that there is a strong Broadway presence in London with first-rate actors and some of the world’s most famous shows.
Visit a Museum
While personally I am a fan of Monet, Picasso, Degas, and others from the Impression Era – there is no shortage of world-class museums. Whether you want to visit the National Gallery, the Tate Modern or Victoria and Albert – or if you are an art or history buff – there are so many museums to choose from in London.
ENJOY A PINT AT THE PUB
London definitely has a pub culture, and on a nice evening you’ll find locals and tourists alike hanging out on the steps or the sidewalks of many of the pubs with a cold brew or cider. In Trafalgar Square, which is the heart of the Westminster area, you’ll find plenty of pubs, cafés, museums and street entertainment to enjoy.
With deep historical roots, culture and great entertainment – there is plenty to check out in the bustling city of London, England. Cheerio!
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